Greek High Court OK's Removing Antiquities from Metro Dig


TV cameras outside the Council of State. (Photo: Eurokinissi/Giannis Panagopoulos, FILE)

The temporary removal and repositioning of ancient underground finds during excavation for Thessaloniki's metro system has been approved by Greece's highest administrative court, the Council of State.

The finds were discovered during construction at the Venizelou metro station, which set off a debate how to deal with them, including among archaeologists, local officials and Attiko Metro, the company managing the project.

By a narrow margin, the court rejected all three appeals filed by scientists, professionals and non-government organizations against a Culture Ministry decision to move the antiquities to storage outside the city, and place them back after the station’s construction, said Kathimerini.

The court ruled that the temporary relocation of the monument was deemed necessary to protect the antiquities during construction and prevent a risk to human health with work ongoing.

The project is already many years behind schedule, due to the discoveries and debate. The construction of the Thessaloniki metro was commissioned in 2003 and was initially expected to be completed by 2012.